From the feasting on Thanksgiving through celebrating on New Year’s Eve, the holiday season can put a great deal of strain on your health, especially when it comes to your gut. Changes in eating schedules, abnormal portion sizes, and even the stress of the season can all affect your gut health, leading to digestive issues and general discomfort.
Taking probiotics for a healthy gut can help ease that discomfort. Your gut relies on certain types of bacteria to process foods properly, and probiotics can support that, especially during the holidays.
During the holiday season, you might experience these symptoms of an unhealthy gut. Often, these may only last through the holidays, but they can still be a cause of discomfort:
Maintaining gut health can prevent these symptoms and help you stay healthy overall throughout the holidays.
The holidays are a time when many of us eat rich foods and sugary treats. From gravy, turkey, ham, and potatoes during mealtimes to festive treats like cookies, pies, eggnog, and candy, it’s common for regular diets to get disrupted at this time of year.
The extra sugars and processed foods—combined with low fiber intake—can disrupt your gut’s health by causing an imbalance between beneficial bacteria (which aid in digestion) and harmful bacteria (which can cause disease). Disrupted routines and stress can also put strain on your gut.
To combat this, here are some methods you can use this holiday season:
Fiber is your friend when it comes to gut health. It feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut, allowing them to crowd out harmful germs while also aiding in digestion.
In addition, a recent study published in Cell showed that diminishing fiber intake can make you more susceptible to disease by allowing gut microbes to degrade the mucus membrane in your colon. Normally, this membrane keeps pathogens (harmful germs that cause disease) from entering your bloodstream, but a lack of fiber can actually thin it out within 3 to 7 days.
Good fibrous foods to eat this holiday season include raw vegetables (think party platters), whole wheat crackers, and dips like hummus or black beans. Almonds and pistachios are also festive sources of fiber.
One way to help yourself maintain gut health during the holidays is with probiotic supplements. Your gut relies on certain types of bacteria to maintain health, and probiotics can add to the quantities of those bacteria in your gut.
For instance, a study published in BMC Gastroenterology shows that having a sufficient concentration of good bacteria in your gut can prevent harmful microbes from getting into your system by essentially crowding them out. Using probiotic supplements to reinforce beneficial bacteria can help with the prevention of some diseases by maintaining a healthy gut environment.
In addition to diet and probiotic supplements, you’ll want to make sure your mental health is in good shape too. If you’re stressed out, stress hormones and inflammation can actually impact the composition of bacteria in your gut, potentially causing digestive disorders, according to a recent paper.
As such, you’ll want to maintain your mental health as much as your physical wellbeing. Meditation, laughing with friends, getting enough sleep, and letting yourself enjoy the season in small, simple ways can all help you relax and reduce stress. When combined with probiotics, you can take a holistic approach toward your gut health and enjoy the season without physiological discomfort.
Naturally, questions come up when it comes to probiotics and gut health. Here are the most common:
Probiotic bacteria mostly work in your large intestine (the colon) where they break down food, help to control the growth of harmful bacteria, and reinforce the membrane in your gut. Different types of probiotics tend to work best in different areas of the intestinal tract – for example, Lactobacilli are more active in the small intestine while Bifidobacteria prefer the anaerobic (less oxygen) environment of the large intestine or colon. This is way it is important to have a wide variety of beneficial bacteria – both in your gut and in any probiotic supplements you may be taking.
Studies indicate that probiotics can improve the composition of bacteria in your gut, which promotes a healthy digestive tract. Additionally, many of the postbiotic metabolites (the beneficial compoiunds made by probiotics as they breakdown dietary fibers) help to re-balance the pH of the interstinal tract which promotes a healthier gut environment for your own microbiome. These postbiotics support a better immune system and better functioning of the whole intestinal system. It doesn’t happen overnight, but does get everything onto a more positive trend.
Ideally, the good bacteria in your gut should outnumber the bad by a landslide. Having enough good bacteria can help crowd out the bad. Additionally, many probiotic bacteria produce specific biochemicals that inhibit the growth of “bad bacteria.”
To keep your gut healthy this holiday season, try probiotics such as Dr. Ohhira’s probiotic supplements. Shop for the right solution for you and enjoy a healthy, happy time with loved ones and friends this year.